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Fancy a frisky whisky Mojito? A barwoman’s guide to creating a home cocktail bar on a budget

By Natalie Hammond

There’s a reason there are so many bars serving cocktails these days – everyone loves them! And, understandably, people want to drink them at home.

But how do you go about creating your own bar? All those Pinterest ideas are crazy expensive, dominate a room, or both. But fear not, my friends, I am here to help.

Firstly, find a few cocktails you like. Crucially, those with ingredients in common, like a Daquiri and Mojito. They’re both rum, lime juice, and gomme with the addition of mint leaves to a Mojito and different fruit purees to a Daiquiri.

Buying a single base spirit to start with builds up your skills and saves you some money. Another great saving is to make your own gomme – or sugar syrup, as it’s called in some recipes. Don’t worry! It’s nowhere near as hard as you think.

You take one part sugar, one part boiling water and stir them together. That’s 2g of sugar for every 1ml of water or 300g of sugar to 150ml of water for a larger quantity. Stir together, pour into a cup, store in the fridge and boom! Done! Most cocktails need gomme and it lasts for ages.

OK, you’ve found some cocktails you like, you’ve even bought a cocktail-making kit, so what next? Now, it’s time to understand those recipes you’ve found online.

Cocktail kits come with jiggers, or measures, the small ones at 25ml and the big ones at 50ml. A pro tip on how to pour a half shot (12.5ml), is to tilt your jigger and fill it up. The unusually shaped tool is a muddler, for crushing fruit. There’s a fine strainer and a Hawthorne strainer. Double strain means to use both together, Hawthorne first, fine second.

Don’t feel bound to the recipes you find. Every bar has a twist on the drinks it serves, why not yours?

Tom Collins

Let’s look at the Tom Collins. The standard recipe is:

50ml gin

25ml of lemon juice

12.5ml gomme

Top it up with soda.

But if you don’t like soda or you’ve had a long day and a double shot of gin is not enough, experiment!

My favourite version of a Tom Collins is with Ribena instead of soda water. My boss has a sweet tooth so he adds more gomme and less lemon juice.

Even mistakes can be entertaining, like that time I accidentally added whiskey to a Mojito (it had been a long day, OK?), and discovered the worst drink I’ve ever had.

And if someone disagrees with how you make your cocktail, you can tell them to make their own, or just bar them. Which does translate to throwing them out of your house. My brother has learned the hard way not to insult my drinks…

There you go, Nat’s top tips for how to create a home bar. Have fun, hydrate, and never ever drink on an empty stomach! Cheers and let’s hope we can have make-your-own-cocktail parties again soon.

For more ideas for home cocktails check out: BBC Good Food Guide – cocktails to make at home.

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